Note: The reviewer arrived too late to see the opening act, What Nerve. The Chanticleer’s top floor is the perfect setting for shows that bridge the divide between performer and audience. The room has no stage and is too small for there to be much distance between the two, making it feel more like a space of shared experience than a performance with separate performers and viewers. Both Sammus and Show Me the Body made excellent use of the room’s potential; both, although in remarkably different ways, managed to make the audience feel like part of the act. Sammus, a rapper and Ithaca native who is also a graduate student at Cornell, is without a doubt one of the most exciting acts that can be seen in Ithaca.
There’s something almost incestuous about the way song titles are reduced, reused and recycled. When Lupe Fiasco sings about a rapper who is coping with his newly acquired fame and The Carpenters sing about a groupie who falls in unrequited love with a musician, and both of these tunes are called “Superstar,” it throws you off kilter. And yet, “Superstar” as a song title is far from the most hackneyed option. The corresponding Wikipedia page lists over 200 songs entitled “Hold On” featuring a sundry of artists, from the Jonas Brothers to Alabama Shakes to The Beekeepers. “Changes,” “Beautiful,” “Breathe” and — of course — “Love” are used just as often.
Listening to M83’s latest single is how I spent the most needlessly melodramatic six minutes of my day. “Solitude” is a slow, woozy ballad layered with heavy, gummy orchestral instrumentation on top of the French duo’s signature echoey vocal chorus. It’s an awkwardly cinematic and self-serious piece of music, like the final scene in a low-budget action movie: just as you can no longer take it seriously, the hero yells “nooo” in slo-motion and pushes the villain into a volcano — except, like, as a piece of ambient pop. Maybe this sounds promising to you, but unfortunately the track seems to be peculiar for the sake of peculiarity, which ends up being predictably boring. After their bopping, Vampire Weekend-ishly charming and buzzy, “Do It, Try It,” “Solitude” is a tedious disappointment.